Fair Game

Musical Score By: John Powell

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Based on a the autobiography of CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame, Fair Game examines the events leading up to the illegal exposure of Plame as an undercover operative and the destruction of her career.  Working under the Central Intelligence Agency’s Counter-Proliferation Division, Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) was assigned to investigate the possible existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Her husband, Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), a diplomat, finds himself drawn into the investigation.  However, outraged that the administration has ignored his findings and recommended going to war, Joe writes a New York Times editorial outlining his findings.  The idea that the government would do such a thing sparks quite a controversy, something enhanced when his wife’s cover is blown after a press leak from the White House itself.

            The musical score of Fair Game was created by British composer John Powell.  A classically trained violinist, Powell eventually expanded his repertoire by venturing into jazz and rock and roll, playing in a soul band known as the Fabulistics.  After college, Powell began composing music for commercials. This soon led to a job as an assistant to composer Patrick Doyle.  In 1995, Powell began a London-based commercial music house called Independently Thinking Music which produced scores for French and British commercials and independent films.  By 1997, Powell had moved to the United States and it is here that his career in musical scoring for film thrived.  Since that fateful move, he has composed musical scores for numerous films, including I Am Sam, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Jumper, Kung Fu Panda, Green Zone and more.

            Having created the musical score for Green Zone, I am not surprised that John Powell was chosen to create the musical score for Fair Game.  The premise for both movies are very similar.  Both deal with someone uncovering that the weapons of mass destruction alleged to be in Iraq was a farce used as a call to war.  Both films involve intrigue and subterfuge.  Although I doubt there was much action in Fair Game, I would say it was on level with Green Zone and thus, Powell was an excellent choice for the musical score as he had already created on for a similar movie.

            There is a hint of the exotic locale of Iraq found in the opening sequence that mostly relies on guitars, percussion and electronic sound.  That electronic sound, or reverb, is used to create the ominous undertones that tell you something just isn’t right about what’s going on here.  You’re not quite sure what it is, but you know that something bad is about to happen just from the tone of the music.  Powell does a great job of conveying the undercover aspects of the film as well as the underhanded goings on that eventually destroy Agent Plame’s career.  I loved the use of percussion to accentuate certain events in the film. 

            Despite that, I question whether or not anyone will be especially inspired to buy this soundtrack.  The music is intriguing, but not truly inspiring or unique.  This is more than likely one of those musical scores best left as a musical enhancement to the visuals on the screen.  As a stand alone album, Fair Game is bound to gather quite a bit of dust.


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